HWS event features James Carville, Chris Christie

Democrat James Carville and Republican Chris Christie will talk politics, the state of public discourse in the U.S. and the November elections at an event that is free and open to the public on Friday, Oct. 21 at the Smith Opera House in Geneva.  

HWS event features Christie, Carville HWS Trustee Bill Whitaker, a journalist and correspondent, will serve as moderator. 

The fall Stern Family Forum event, which kicks off a weekend of celebrations in honor of Hobart College’s Bicentennial, begins at 7:30 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.  

The Stern Family Forum, funded by Honorary Trustee Herbert J. Stern and Trustee Samuel A. Stern, was created to support annual public discussions with notable guests who bring nuance to difficult, sometimes controversial subjects. 

“The Stern Forum continues to engage our campus in our contemporary political moment,” said Provost and Dean of Faculty Sarah Kirk, one of the forum’s organizers. “This fall’s guests have unique insight into the events and personalities that continue to shape the national dialogue.” 

Christie served two terms as the 55th governor of New Jersey. A former U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, he ran for president in 2016 and chaired Donald Trump’s transition to the White House. He has chaired the Republican Governors Association and President Trump’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission. 

Since leaving office, he’s been a regular commentator on ABC News, a published author and serves on the board of directors for the New York Mets. 

Carville is a prominent Democratic consultant and political commentator. Often referred to as the “Ragin’ Cajun,” he was the lead strategist for the successful election in 1992 of Bill Clinton as the 42nd president of the United States.  

Carville is the former co-host of CNN’s Crossfire and has provided consultation to campaigns in more than 20 countries. He teaches political science at Tulane University. A former U.S. Marine, he received his undergraduate and law degrees from Louisiana State University.  

In 2013, Carville delivered the HWS Commencement address and was awarded an honorary degree. 

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New Hobart William Smith president knows value of liberal arts

Joyce P. Jacobsen steps into the presidency at Hobart and William Smith Colleges at a difficult time.

Joyce P. Jacobsen, new president of Hobart William Smith Colleges in Geneva
Joyce P. Jacobsen

Not just a difficult time for HWS, which lost a president last year after a plagiarism scandal, but a difficult time for liberal arts institutions everywhere.

The pool of applicants is shrinking, and there have been some recent announcements of liberal arts colleges closing.

Jacobsen’s plan? Double down on the value proposition of a liberal arts education.

“All schools have to be aware they have to make a value proposition case,” said Jacobsen, 57, who is currently working as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at one of the mostly highly respected liberal arts colleges in the country, Connecticut’s Wesleyan University. “We don’t have to change what we’re doing to be a good value proposition.” Jacobsen said HWS should “focus on competencies, the idea that liberal arts training makes you a flexible person.”

A career-specific academic program “may look like a better path in the short run,” she said. But “we don’t know what will be in the work force 30 years from now.”

The liberal arts college’s narrative needs to explain how students enter a college without a focus but gain one after four years. Some don’t find that focus, though, Jacobsen noted. Part of the college’s job is to reassure families and students “there’s not one true calling.” But students benefit from a flexible mindset and skills they gain from their education.

“No doubt, colleges, liberal arts colleges, are facing a more challenging future simply because of the demographic changes that are affecting our country,” said Thomas S. Bozzuto, chairman of the HWS board of trustees. “What I hope Joyce will be able to do is keep Hobart and William Smith as an educational institution that continues to provide extraordinary, hands-on education that allows for the growth of the individual regardless of the changing circumstances.”

These changes, felt most devastatingly by two New England colleges that have announced plans to close in recent weeks – are not to be dismissed easily.

“Hampshire College (in Amherst, Mass.) sent a shock wave through a lot of people,” Jacobsen said. “I think it’s going to be some shakeup of the smaller end of the market. The ones that survive will be stronger.”

In the short run, Jacobsen intends to work at getting to know Hobart and William Smith Colleges intimately.

“For me, the immediate goal is just to make sure I really understand the place in a really holistic sense—faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents.” She plans to tour the campus, walking through each building top to bottom to get the lay of the land.

There’s a new capital campaign to head, and a proposed science center to finance and build. And perhaps a new strategic plan for the colleges shaped by her skill-set.  In a recent interview conducted by phone from Middletown, Conn., Jacobsen also expressed a desire to get to know leaders in the greater Rochester area and work with them.

A scholar focusing on the intersection of gender and economics, Jacobsen has worked at Wesleyan since 1993, first as a professor and later an administrator. She was educated at Harvard University, the London School of Economics, and Stanford University.

Jacobsen’s academic interests helped pique her interest in Hobart and William Smith, as its precursor institution, Geneva Medical College, granted a degree to the first female doctor in the nation. Jacobsen herself has made history by becoming the first female president of the colleges.

Bozzuto said Jacobsen’s qualifications and the outstanding recommendations colleagues provided for her made her the best choice as president.

Bozzuto said as a college board chair, and operator of a business with 2,700 employees, he’s done many, many interviews and checked many references.
“I’ve never heard references as extraordinary and consistent as the ones we got on Joyce. People talk not only about her personality, but her ability to make decisions and keep people on board even when she made decisions they might not have agreed with,” Bozzuto said. “One of the things we heard repeatedly was she was thoughtful, analytical, data driven and she made decisions objectively.”

Jacobsen comes from an academic background in Reno, Nev., where  her late father, William Jacobsen, was a linguistics  professor specializing in Native American languages at the University of Nevada at Reno, and her mother, Virginia Chan, who now lives in the Netherlands, was an administrator for the college’s Basque Studies program.

Jacobsen’s husband, Bill Boyd, a math scholar, will move with her into the president’s residence above Seneca Lake. She officially takes office in June, but plans to visit beforehand, just as she plans to visit old friends in Middletown as much as she can afterward. The couple has two children together and two children from Boyd’s previous relationship, all grown, along with five grandchildren.

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